Many people are now starting to seek permanent makeup for its many good perks and benefits, and who can blame them? Other people are also seeking to break into permanent makeup as a profession. On both ends of the spectrum, it’s important to know what tools are used in permanent makeup and what tools are recommended for the best possible results. The art of applying permanent makeup requires a variety of specialized tools and equipment.

So, what tools are used in permanent makeup? Permanent makeup tools include machines, needles, tips and tubes, rulers, stencils, pigments, applicators, anesthetic products, and sterilization and sanitation products.

Ready to learn what creates the beautiful effects of permanent makeup (aside from the permanent makeup artists themselves)? Below is a guide to the tools that allow permanent makeup to be applied.

Tools Used in Permanent Makeup Application

There are many types of permanent makeup procedures, ranging from the eyes to the lips to the areolas. Because of this, there are also many different tools used in permanent makeup application. Below we’ll walk you through some of the most common tools used in permanent makeup.


The application of permanent makeup is often very similar to that of a tattoo. Because the two techniques are so closely related, permanent makeup is often applied with machines. Machines can be used to apply permanent makeup in most all procedures, and each different permanent makeup artist may prefer to use one type of machine over another.

There are three common types of machines used in permanent makeup application:

  1. Coil Machines
  2. Rotary Machines
  3. Digital Machines

Coil machines have been a common machine for all types of tattooing since they were invented in the late 1800’s (yes, they’re they’ve been around that long!). Coil machines, like most tattoo machines, use needles to safely deposit micro pigments into the skin, resulting in permanent color. You may recognize coil machines from their buzzing sound and copper coils. Today, they may not be as commonly seen in permanent makeup application as other types of machines.

Rotary machines tend to be smaller and lighter than coil machines, and may be in the shape of a large pen. They also use needles to deposit micro pigments into the skin to create the different looks of permanent makeup. Unlike coil machines and digital machines (which we’ll discuss below) rotary machines vibrate sideways, which may sometimes be harder on the skin.

Digital machines are perhaps one of the most popular machines used in permanent makeup application. They work similarly to coil machines, using a needle to deposit micro pigments into desired areas on the skin. Digital machines vibrate needles up and down, and the speeds can be easily adjusted. The needles of digital machines retract into the cartridge whenever the machine is off, which tends to be safer for permanent makeup artists and clients.

SofTap Applicators

On the other side of permanent makeup application tools is SofTap. SofTap applicators are tools used to apply permanent makeup – but by hand rather than machine. These applicators come in about 20 different hand tools, and each one comes sterilized, pre-packaged and is disposable. Permanent makeup artists can use a different SofTap applicator for each client.

SofTap applicators are most often used to apply permanent makeup to the eyebrows, lines of the eyes and the lips. They may be used alone, or in conjunction with a machine. SofTap applicators can have a variety of different needle shapes and lengths to create different desired effects.


As you’ve probably figured, needles are the main tool used to deposit micro pigments into the skin during the application of permanent makeup. They may be in a machine or a SofTap applicator, and there are many different types of needles that produce different results.

Needles used in permanent makeup need to be sharp, high quality, sterilized and disposable in all cases to produce the best possible results of permanent makeup. Needles vary in several different ways:

  • Diameter
  • Sharpness
  • Length
  • Angle

The types of needles used in permanent makeup may have two different types of sharpness: long-taper and short-taper (or bullet-shaped). Long-taper needles are used for soft shading and contouring, and deposit less pigment into the skin. Short-taper or bullet-shaped needles are used for filling in and deposit more dense pigment, evenly distributing it.

When it comes to length, permanent makeup needles are 5cm long, but may need to vary depending on the type of pigment that is used.

The angle of needles are the angle at which they enter the skin in order to deposit the micro pigments. Round clusters, which are a group of needles, enter the skin together to create contours and shading. Flat needles enter the skin straight on, and are typically used for filling in sketches, applying very thin lines, or applying eyeshadow pigments. Lastly, sloped needles enter the skin at a sloped angle. They are most often used for shading and contouring. 


Permanent makeup wouldn’t be able to be applied without one key tool – pigment. Although we compare permanent makeup artistry to tattooing quite frequently, the pigments used in permanent makeup are different than those used in traditional tattooing. Permanent makeup pigments are designed to work in and with different skin tones in order to create more natural results.

Many pigments used in permanent makeup used to contain high amounts of iron oxides, a nontoxic coloring agent. Now, many companies are trying to limit the use of iron oxides in their products as they have been shown to fade more quickly or change in color. This has led to two main types of pigment used in permanent makeup: iron oxides and non iron oxides.

There are also some other tools that accompany pigments, like pigment cups, pigment shakers, and pigment mixers.

Rulers and Stencils

Rulers and stencils are often used in permanent makeup application. The reason rulers and stencils are used in permanent makeup is pretty simple: to make results as even and as symmetrical as possible (or as desired).

Rulers and stencils are perhaps most often seen in microblading, or the process of applying permanent makeup to the eyebrows. Quite often, permanent makeup artists will “map” out the eyebrows of a client with rulers and stencils before beginning to apply the pigment.

Permanent Makeup Anesthetics

For anyone who may not have gotten permanent makeup or a tattoo before, it’s important to know the process can be painful. Permanent makeup application is comprised of needles repeatedly entering the skin to deposit pigment, and it tends to hurt. Because of that, permanent makeup artists are known to use anesthetics before and during procedures to minimize the pain of their clients and make the experience more comfortable.

Anesthetics used in permanent makeup are usually topical, meaning they are applied to the top of the skin instead of injected in to it (like a numbing shot you may receive at the dentists’ office). Topical anesthetics may come in the form of creams, applicator sticks, and gels. Different products may be used for the different parts of the procedures, like before, during and after.

Sterilization and Sanitation Products

Sterilization and sanitation is huge in the practice of permanent makeup. Working with the body requires extensive measures to keep clients healthy and to keep products sterile. Sterilization and sanitation products used in permanent makeup may include:

  • Disinfectant
  • Iodine Prep Pads
  • Alcohol Pads
  • Eye Wipes
  • Eye Wash
  • Gloves
  • Disposal Bags

There are many different practices for sterilizing and sanitizing equipment used in permanent makeup, and many different products on the market that can be used. It’s important that every permanent makeup artist knows how to sterilize and sanitize and uses high quality products.

Recommended Permanent Makeup Tools

With all the different types of permanent makeup tools out there, and with the importance of having high quality products, it may leave some wondering what permanent makeup tools are recommended to buy (or recommended for permanent makeup artists to use). So, what are some of the recommended permanent makeup tools from the different categories of tools?

Recommended Machines

  • BioTouch Deluxe Merlin Machine Kit
    • The BioTouch Merlin Machine Kit is quiet, compatible with round and flat needles, moves up and down at a speed of 8,000 r/m, and has been rated 10.0 out of 10.0 on several sites. It also boasts faster, easier skin healing and less fading.
  • TomTop Permanent Nouveau Contour Style
    • The TomTop Permanent Nouveau is able to apply permanent makeup and traditional tattoos. It allows the artist to choose the thickness of various compatible needles, runs at frequencies of 12,000 to 15,000 r/m and is quieter than other machines.

Cost of Permanent Makeup Machines

The costs of permanent makeup machines vary greatly depending on the type, brand and use. Permanent makeup machines can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The price of permanent makeup machines doesn’t always equal the quality, but it’s not ever recommended to “skimp out” and pay less for sub-par products.

Recommended SofTap Applicators

SofTap applicators are most recommended from SofTap itself. SofTap applicators can be purchased individually or in assortment kits for different procedures. SofTap offers kits for eyebrows, lips, eyeliners, and colors/pigments.

SofTap products can be purchased in other places and on other sites, but remember: they always need to be pre-packaged, sterilized and disposable.

Cost of SofTap Applicators

SofTap manual applicators cost anywhere from $5 to $15 individually. Softap Kits with several of each applicator and other equipment range in price from about $400 to $2,000 depending on where they are purchased.

Recommended Pigments

Like discussed previously, there are two main types of pigments: those that have iron oxides, and those that don’t have iron oxides. Like a lot of other tools used in permanent makeup, pigments can be found from a large variety of sources.

Recommended pigments are those that resist drying, maintain color, and with the desired amount of iron oxides. Popular sites to purchase pigment for different procedures include NPM USA and Nouveau Contour.

Cost of Pigments

Pigments are most often sold in bottles, usually in volumes of 12 ml. They may cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per bottle, and vary depending on the type of pigment, color of pigment and the volume of the bottle.


All in all, there are many different types and varieties of permanent makeup tools. Since permanent makeup tools are what ultimately leads to the desired look and ease of permanent makeup, it’s important to find and use safe, good quality products.

Learn More

If you are interested, here is a link to the Makeup section on Amazon.


The Eyerly Family is a tight knit family from Texas. Married for 10 years Dane and Deena are the parents to six awesome kids! In 2021 the Eyerly's are leaving normal life behind to travel full-time throughout the United States in their Double Decker Bus which has been converted to a tiny home. Learn more about The Eyerly's here.

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